When 22-year-old Li Qiming killed one pedestrian and injured another in a hit-and-run car accident, his defense was “Go ahead, sue me if you dare, my dad is [Bei District, Baoding City Public Security Bureau deputy director of criminal investigation].” The response has given rise to debate on the Internet, and has popularized the phrase “my dad is Li Gang.”
In the evening on October 16, 2010, due to drunk driving and speeding, a black Volkswagen Magotan hit 2 female student pedestrians wearing roller shoes in front of a supermarket at Hebei University. The incident caused one death and one injured. After the incident, like nothing had happened, the driver continued to drive his girlfriend to school. He was then later stopped by number of students and school security guards on his way back. Surprisingly, the young man showed little remorse and fear, he shouted, “Go ahead, sue me if you dare, my dad is Li Gang”. The report of this incident immediately caused uproar in China’s online community.
These couple of days, the incident has caused widespread concerns of the netizens. Internet users expressed their anger towards the perpetrator on web. Posts condemning the perpetrator are seen everywhere. It is verified that the perpetrator’s father is the Public Security Bureau deputy director. On October 19, 2010, a new Internet catchphrase was born “My dad is Li Gang.” And the incident is also known as the “Li Gang gate”.
See more commentary via Roland Soong of EastSouthNorthWest ‘s translation of a Hexun blog post:
But the words “My dad is Li Gang” suddenly created a butterfly effect that led to a major social crisis in a way that is uniquely Chinese. I believe that any serious social scientist must take a research interest in this case; and any serious politician must be concerned about the deep social crisis created by this minor incident and the implications for the future of China.
Here I want to discuss some of my viewpoints about “Car Accident Gate.”
Firstly, I think that the quick intercession of CCTV into this case failed to stem the rushing public opinion tide. Instead, they unwisely followed up on the case along the same vein. Unless CCTV makes a 180 degree turn, it will have no credibility when it covers similar incidents in the future.
Frankly, I can understand that the CCTV editors wanted to calm down hatred among the masses who don’t know the truth against the arrogance of the children of government officials. Therefore, they were willing to dedicate precious on-air minutes to show the Li father and son crying in tears and being contrite. They did this in an attempt to cool down the public opinion storm. But they made a fatal mistake here: they ignored the need for the family members of the victims to express their feelings, including the likelihood that they may accept the sincere apologies of the victimizer and his father. This was short-sighted and unwise, because the opportunity to get to the victims’ side of the story now belonged to civilian dissidents and non-mainstream media. In so doing, it almost completely gave up its credibility and fairness in covering the case.
Next, this is an age in which the Internet is everywhere. Any public incident or public figure which draws the interests of netizens and spectators will almost inevitably be subject to human flesh search. This meant that the true face of Li Gang was inevitably going to be uncovered, and it was just a simple matter of counting down to when he stumbles to his inexorable fall.
Danwei has posted a YouTube video link to an interview with the father (Chen Guangqian) and brother (Chen Lin) of Chen Xiaofeng, the female who died after she was struck by Li Qiming’s car.
Interviewer: Why the did the perpetrator say, “My dad is Li Gang?”
Chen Lin: Because he was showing off or it was just something that he did. It’s relying on the power of his family; he said it subconsciously. Lots of people are like this now, I think he’s using it as a kind of backup, I don’t think it was because he was afraid, it was just subconscious: this is who my family is are, you can’t do this and this to me.
Chen Guangqian: I don’t know what the inside story is, I know that he’s in certain circles, that he’ll have lots of connections within Baoding.
Interviewer: So are you afraid?
Chen Guangqian: I am… I am afraid.
“Car Accident Gate” has had another unintended consequence — see ChinaGeeks for their post, “Fatal Car Accident Uncovers More University Plagiarism.”